Monday, July 10, 2006

Extremely Fast Computers In Our Near Future

Intel aims for 32 cores by 2010.

Chicago (IL) and Westlake Village (CA) - Five years ago, Intel envisioned processors running at 20 GHz by the end of this decade. Today we know that the future will look different. CPUs will sacrifice clock speed over core count: Intel's first "many core" CPU, will run at only two thirds of the clock speed of today's fastest Xeon CPU - but achieve 15x the performance, thanks to 32 cores.

"Dual-core" is a term Intel never really warmed up to. In fact, two cores per processor is just the first step on a ladder of increasing core counts that, as we believe today, will lead the microprocessor industry into another period of growth. Instead of promoting "dual-core", Intel typically talks about "multi-core" - a term the company internally refers to as project "Kevet" - and explains the press and analysts that "many-cores" - processors that potentially could hold "dozens of cores" - will be available sometime in the future.

Freescale Unveils Magnetic Memory Chip.
Achieving a long-sought goal of the $48 billion memory chip industry, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. (FSL) announced the commercial availability of a chip that combines traditional memory's endurance with a hard drive's ability to keep data while powered down.

The chips, called magnetoresistive random-access memory or MRAM, maintain information by relying on magnetic properties rather than an electrical charge. Unlike flash memory, which also can keep data without power, MRAM is fast to read and write bits, and doesn't degrade over time.

Freescale, which was spun off of Motorola Inc. (MOT) in July 2004, said Monday it has been producing the 4-megabit MRAM chips at an Arizona factory for two months to build inventory. A number of chip makers have been pursuing the technology for a decade or more, including IBM Corp.

Sometimes referred to as "universal" memory, MRAM could displace a number of chips found in every electronic device, from PCs, cell phones, music players and cameras to the computing components of kitchen appliances, cars and airplanes.

"This is the most significant memory introduction in this decade," said Will Strauss, an analyst with research firm Forward Concepts. "This is radically new technology. People have been dabbling in this for years, but nobody has been able to make it in volume."

MRAM is totally cool. It takes all of the advantages of our current memories (harddisks, DDR-RAM, flash-RAM, etc.) and none of the disadvantages.

MRAM is fast and non-volatile. The last one allows for instant-on pc's because loading the OS on every boot won't be necessary anymore.

The only reason why we have different types of memories nowadays is because these different memory types have their own advantages. Hard-disks allow for permanent storage. DDR-RAM is fast and therefore adequate for processing data. Cache memory is extremely fast but also very expensive, which is the reason why conventional computers only have very little of it.

In the years to come, all of these types of memory will be replaced by MRAM. And that's how MRAM got the name of 'universal memory'.

Computers are not only getting a lot faster; they're also getting a lot smarter:

How a Computer Knows What Many Managers Don't.
So why ever trust a computer model to run your investments? Because, in the real world, it seems to pay off.

Replace your mouse with your eye.
"Eye-trackers will one day be so reliable and so simple that they will become yet another input device on your computer, like a much more sophisticated mouse," said Professor Guang-Zhong Yang of the Department of Computing at Imperial College.

Also see The Future Of Computers.

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